Student activist released after being slapped with ATA


August 24, 2020

By Rehan Piracha


Sayed Muhammad, a student rights activist who raised the issue of unavailability of high-speed internet especially in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has returned home after posting bail in an anti-terrorism case.

Sayed was arrested on trumped-up charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act for participating in a local demonstration that turned violent. Sayed Muhammad speaks to about his ordeal since then.

On July 27th, also, Sayed Muhammad was arrested after attending a demonstration against an explosion in Parachinar. The protest had turned violent and demonstrators had pelted stones on security personnel.

But Sayed had clarified that he was not part of the mob pelting stones and had arrived there after four hours. He alleged that the district authorities had falsely implicated him in the case to pressurize him. \

Sayed Muhammd claimed that he was shifted to Kohat where counter terrorism officials tortured him for about 10 days on physical remand. He was then shifted to the Kohat district jail from where he was released after he posted bail. The rights activist accused district authorities in Kurram district of arresting peace-loving students and activists on trumped up charges, appealing to the federal and provincial government to take note of such false cases. He called for youth and rights activists across the country to highlight the abuse being meted to their fellows in Kurran district.

Sayed Muhammad, a student of mass communication at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) in Islamabad, had filed a petition at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the suspension and unavailability of high speed internet in the merged tribal districts, formerly known as FATA.

The universities were closed due to the lockdown imposed in the country following the Covid pandemic in March. The Higher Educaton Commission had directed universities to begin online classes from June. High speed internet services were restricted in these districts due to terrorism and security concerns.

Sayed Muhammad and thousands of other students in the tribal districts were worried and angry over how they would be able to continue their education online without access to high speed internet. The frustration and hopelessness led him to approach the high court in Islamabad.

Despite his efforts, however, there is still no high speed internet in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.